Many Bendigo school students will no longer receive subsidies for school buses from 2014, following changes to the Conveyance Allowance.
Minister for Education Martin Dixon this week announced that only families “able to demonstrate financial hardship” will, in future, be eligible for the subsidy, which assists with the cost of transporting children to “their closest appropriate school/campus”.
The announcement came as a shock for Catholic College which is dependent on a fleet of school buses transporting the majority of its students.
“We knew there was a review but we didn’t expect it to be as significant as it is,” principal Darren McGregor said.
“We don’t know yet the exact number but the changes will affect a significant number of our families.
“We have just heard, too, that our Year 9 students do not qualify for the grandfather clause, when they change campuses, so they will have to reapply (for subsidy).”
Most of Catholic College’s 1100 students travel by bus to the La Valla Campus in Junortoun.
Mr McGregor said the subsidy was $274, before the review.
From 2013, eligible students will receive from $493, for private bus conveyance above a distance of 4.8km.
The new Education Department policy states that to be eligible under the “Financial need” criteria, a parent or guardian must be receiving a benefit from Centrelink and hold a Health Care or Pensioner Concession Card.
The grandfather clause allows a one-year transition period for currently enrolled students; those eligible in 2012 will not be required to meet the means-testing eligibility in 2013.
Catholic College has received advice that students moving from the Junortoun Years 7-9 campus to the Barkly Street 10-12 campus will not qualify for the transition year automatic subsidy.“The difficulty is, they still have to get to school, so there are unfortunately not many ways to respond to it,” Mr McGregor said.